Dave Mustaine Says You Can’t Tell a Difference Between His Gibson and Epiphone Signature Guitars

Last year, the news of the Megadeth frontman going over to the Gibson camp spread like wildfire. And, as was only expected, Dave Mustaine has also gotten signature models by Gibson subsidiary companies Epiphone and Kramer. But although we know there’s a significant price difference between the “flagship” Gibson stuff and these more affordable instruments, Mustaine said that you can’t tell the difference between them.

In a recent interview with Guitar World, he was asked whether his Epiphone models, with the brand often considered “the poor man’s Gibson,” were different from Gibson versions and whether he could notice any difference. He replied:

“No, you can’t. During this last headlining tour that Megadeth did, I used them.

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In fact, Mustaine says that it’s the same with the Kramer guitar. He said that he used them and didn’t even notice that his tech put a Kramer version in his hands. Dave continued:

“During the set, the techs will hand guitars to me when I need them. It’s quick and no fluff because we need to get on with it. And so, I was getting ready to run up on stage; I grabbed my guitar and was off.

“And after the fact, my tech said to me, ‘Hey, what did you think about the Kramer?’ And I’d looked at him, and I said, ‘Huh? What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘I handed you the Kramer when you went out there tonight…’ and I said, ‘Really? Get the fuck out of here.'”


When further prompted to elaborate and the interviewer asked “You couldn’t tell?,” Mustaine replied:

“I couldn’t tell. It was a real heat-of-the-moment scenario, so I couldn’t even tell you what color it was. I never looked at the headstock or body beyond noticing where the wings ended. If I had looked at the bottom of the wings and seen if they were rounded or pointed, I would have been able to tell it was an Epiphone, Kramer, or whatever.

“But I didn’t even really do that. And the thing is, the guitar has my neck shape. That’s all that needs to be said about it. If you’re a guitar player and you’ve ever held my guitar, you know what I’m talking about.”

Icons: Dave Mustaine of Megadeth

Going more into the matter, the interviewer asked Mustaine to explain what makes the neck unique and he replied:

“Hold one, and you’ll see [laughs]. But I created a profile that I hoped would exist for years. Many men and women have tried to create guitars with looks in mind only – I didn’t do that. Because when it comes to guitars, it ain’t about what it looks like; it’s about how it plays.

To explain this further, Mustaine also compared the two usual fretting hand-playing styles — thumb over or thumb on the back of the neck — and what his signature models are better for:

“So, if you’re one of those guys that has to have your thumb over the top of the neck, hey, great, you play a certain way. And that means you’ll need a certain neck. But if you’re a guy that presses your thumb on the back of the neck and does legato stuff, you’re gonna need a specific guitar. My guitar is that guitar.”

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Obviously, with this said, you’d expect this guitar to be the best choice for metal music, particularly if you’re a “shredder” kind of guitar player. But when asked whether “it’s only built for metal” or if you could also use it for other genres, Mustaine said:

“It’s associated with metal, but I go back to what I said about its utility earlier. My guitar has got the perfect shape where it’s like a shredder neck. But it’s also got the strength to have that bottom-end needed to get that gritty, chunky rhythm sound that some people need. And the other thing is that the Epiphone is a beast for people who want to do baritone stuff.”

The announcement of Kramer and Epiphone versions came earlier this year and these four new models cost between $1,299 and $1,499. Although not the cheapest one on the market, these are substantially more affordable compared to Gibson versions that are $2,799 and $2,999, as well as the Gibson Custom Shop variant that’s $6,999.

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The two Epiphone models are Dave Mustaine Flying V Prophecy and Dave Mustaine Flying V Custom, costing $1,499 and $1,399 respectively. As far as Kramers go, we have Dave Mustaine Vanguard Rust in Peace and Dave Mustaine Vanguard, each coming with a $1,299 price tag. Both of these brands come with 24 frets but the scale lengths are different with Kramer utilizing 25.5 inches. There are also some other important differences and you can check them all out at this location.

Photos: Selbymay (HF2022Megadeth 4), Epiphone

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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